Friday 30 September 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update September 30th 2022

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update September 30th 2022

World: 622,586,038 officially reported cases and 6,547,819 losses of life.

Lets start with the bad news. UK figures are "facing an uptick". English hospital admissions are up by almost half on last week (+48%).
According to the COVID Actuaries' maths:
"Regionally, the biggest increases are in SE (up 64%) and Mids (up 58%) but big increases everywhere.
Bed occupancy is up by 37%"
An increase in people arriving in hospital with COVID leads naturally to an increase in 'hospital-acquired' COVID. Adele Groyer of the COVID Actuaries is the expert on this one:
"There were 2,197 such cases in the 7 days to 26 Sept. In the previous week there were 1,133 such cases.
The last time there were over 2,000 likely hospital acquired cases / week was in July."
Because we no longer routinely test people before they go to hospital, this is a bit of a canary-style early warning, alerting us to the fact there must be higher figures everywhere within the community.

260922 Hospital admissions England indieSAGE chart

The ONS Random sampling really is our best canary, but it is now 2 weeks out of date already when they publish it, so less useful than it used to be. Bad news in England during the week ending 17th September though:
"COVID19 infections increased in
▪️ The North West
▪️ Yorkshire and The Humber
▪️ The West Midlands
▪️ The East of England
▪️ London
▪️ The South East
The trend was uncertain in all other regions".
And bad news for the whole UK (week ending 17 September for England, and 20 September for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland).
"The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase in England and Wales, and the trend was uncertain in Northern Ireland and Scotland."
(Scotland went from 1 in 55 to 1 in 45, which doesn't feel very uncertain... and remember Scottish schools went back 2-3 weeks before most of the rest of the UK, so maybe Scotland is the canary).
- England, estimate 857,400, equating to 1.57% of the population, or around 1 in 65 people.
- Wales, estimate 62,900, equating to 2.07% of the population, or around 1 in 50 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 23,100, equating to 1.26% of the population, or around 1 in 80 people.
- Scotland, estimate 117,100, equating to 2.22% of the population, or around 1 in 45 people.

It isn't only the UK facing upward trends. The arrival of Autumn, as anyone sensible could have predicted, is hitting Europe as a whole, and if you look at America, it's likely the entire Northern Hemisphere is facing an "uptick". We are all heading into colder weather, more time indoors, and with fuel prices soaring - more people gathering together to save money on heating their own homes.
Please be sensible, remember to let fresh air in often.

300922 European hospital admissions with COVID

All eyes are on what is going to happen this Winter, and several of the big names are becoming twitchy about immune-evasive variants. These are always going to happen. Each time COVID goes through a human, those few broken or mutated COVID virus that survive are the beginnings of a new variant which can get past your defences. Very few ever make it out of your body alive. Hardly any of those make it into a different human, and it's a very rare day they escape into the wider community and cause some havoc.
We have a number of more 'evasive' Omicron strains moving around at the moment. Only a few seem to have the genetic make up that gives them potential to be nightmarish, and as we've seen over the last 2 years, even scary looking variants can prove a bit rubbish in real life (remember Mu?). It remains to be seen if any of these will outperform current Omicron strains (they might well be alive, but not very catchy, or not very quick), and what effect that would have, but it does seem unavoidable that we'll continue to see an increase in all COVID cases overall. 

The UK don't seem to know what they're doing regarding vaccinating younger children. The NHS webpage is a big fat mess (screenshot below). Children who turn 5 in the current school year DO NOT automatically qualify for COVID vaccinations, but any who were 5 before 1st September 2022 DO get 2 doses.
Frankly I hope that changes. Vaccine safety has been as we expected after trials, and I think we're all very much aware now that kids catch COVID. They mainly spread it through schools, before all taking it home to Grandma.
Children who turn 5 and are at high risk of serious illness, or live with someone who is, can still request COVID vaccinations. 

300922 UK Gov don't know their arse from their elbow Screenshot

A new (not-yet peer-reviewed) study from University of Kent in collaboration with researchers in Germany has some excellent news, and offers genuine hope regarding 'how big a flu wave we might have this Winter'.
They have discovered a link between low rates of flu and Omicron infection. Just about all COVID worldwide is now from the Omicron dynasty (the UK has been Omicron since the end of last year), so your infection might have given you some protection against Influenza A. This is in large part because your body recognises them both as a similar threat and doesn't have to waste time creating a new antiviral response.
If this proves correct in the real world, it would help explain why that predicted huge flu wave didn't arrive last Winter, just as Omicron took over. Fingers firmly crossed, because although it doesn't count for all types of flu, and won't protect all people, it could still be preventing the early loss of many thousands of lives. 

We know COVID can cause heart inflammation and damage in a surprisingly high number of patients. It is really hard to study just how bad it is, as we need our hearts while we're alive. Researchers from Australia have looked really closely at the hearts from 7 patients who died from COVID in Brazil (not-yet-peer-reviewed). They compared the hearts to those from people who died from flu, and found they were staggeringly different.
The lead researcher is quoted in the Brisbane Times: “We found a lot of DNA damage that was unique to the COVID-19 patients which wasn’t present in the flu patients.”
What this means is whereas flu causes a body response that includes lots of inflammation, it seems the COVID virus actually goes into the cells and causes them to change, which is more like Cancer or Diabetes than Influenza.
Although this isn't what we'd hope to find, it gives us far more clues about what types of treatments may help Long COVID sufferers, and what therapeutics may also help minimise or prevent damage in future. Best get testing... 

A mother gets her child ready to leave for school, adjusting his bag straps on his shoulders

Talking of which, get your flu jab when you are invited, and this includes primary aged schoolchildren (who have a spray rather than a jab). COVID + Flu at the same time is too much for any body, and doubles your chance of serious illness or death. 

The Guardian tell us Thérèse Coffey, UK Health Secretary, has dumped the government’s overdue white paper on health inequalities, despite us discovering we have a 19 year gap in life expectancy between our richest and poorest communities.
This was part of Boris' 'levelling up' agenda, and due to be published last Spring. Perhaps levelling 'up' by 19 years seemed just too big a goal to aim for... 

300922 Nextclade COVID immune escaping properties Kristian G Anderson
COVID variants with immune escaping properties; Kristian G Anderson

Last week the US CDC quietly changed guidance and removed the requirement to mask in healthcare settings and care homes. It's not gone down well with healthcare workers, and several high ranking healthcare managers have taken to social media to make it clear that you must still mask if you visit their hospital.
New York and California are among the states that already have their own mask mandates in place. 

The UK's "mini budget" is such a disaster that the £1 is now worth $1. The Bank Of England had to step in and buy £65b (Sixty Five Billion Pounds) of UK Government Bonds (debt/IOU's), or we could have completely gone bust.  They practically begged Liz Truss to reconsider, to no avail.
The world markets don't have any trust in newly announced UK economic policies - which put more money in the bank accounts of rich people, and less in the pockets and purses of regular folk. You feed that tree from the roots and it'll spread upwards. Cut off the roots and leave them to die in a heap, and pretty soon you don't even have a tree.

COVID Omicron Variant Tree from Daniele Focosi MD PhD in Virology
COVID Omicron Variant Tree from Daniele Focosi MD PhD in Virology

A lot of you are of childbearing age, and I've been asked many times if COVID or COVID vaccinations affect periods. My initial gut feeling has always been a definite yes, because so many people ask, but whether it's the vaccination, virus, body response or plain old stress and anxiety is a mystery. We have some more solid research, and it confirms being vaccinated CAN affect your menstrual cycle.
Researchers used data collected via the period tracking app. 'Natural Cycles', from nearly 20,000 people in "Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe and other parts of the world who received any of nine different vaccines".
After single vaccination there was an average increase in menstrual cycle length, but it's not huge, it was less than one complete day - 0.71 day increase after the first dose and a 0.56 day increase after the second dose. Participants who received both doses in a single cycle had a 3.91 day increase in cycle length. The increase was not associated with any change in the number of days bleeding occurred, and for most study participants, the increase resolved in the month following vaccination.
This is more proof that all kinds of things beyond our control can affect menstruation, and hopefully paves the way for more research in this very neglected area. 

Alzheimer's is in the news, as there are 3 different drug trials which are showing good results at slowing cognitive decline. They won't be a cure, and they won't improve damage already done, but it seems likely we will have a drug available within a couple of years to give people better quality of life for far longer. 

300922 ONS random sampling 2 weeks ago England by date infections deaths hospitalisations charts

People also keep asking me if I think we will go back to masks. Obviously my guess is probably as good as yours, so feel free to add yours as a comment. Personally I think yes - on public transport and in high risk settings such as care homes at minimum, and I think a lot more people will choose to wear one anyway. I think we're literally more likely to 'gather together for warmth', and might see a higher rate of flu than the last 2 incredibly low Winters. The NHS is already struggling, we are short of 40,000 nurses alone, and we have yet to see how quickly the current UK decision-makers can move. As a population we're complacent, a lot of people have "had it twice and I'm fine". We're bored of limiting social contact, and far more likely to break lockdown now that we've seen the people who set the rules didn't abide by them. If we avoid a significant wave this Winter it'll be a miracle. But, that said, it should never reach the levels it did 2 years ago, and we definitely shouldn't lose anything like as many people. (One for you Thérèse.)

Household energy bills go up by around 1/4 TOMORROW (1st October). Coupled with price rises already in place, it'll mean many of us pay around double this Winter for energy compared to last year. Check your meter today or tomorrow, so that you aren't behind with payments and end up paying that off at the higher rate. 

Energy Price Guarantee collage of different properties average bills

It is the weekend! I did 2 car boot sales last weekend and made more than enough to cover the time, petrol and some very tasty samosas, plus it didn't even rain - thanks to everyone who wished us well in that! This weekend I'm having much more of a break, and a long bath with all the smelly bubbly stuff. I hope you have your special treat lined up, you also made it through another week, and you've earnt it. 

Some people. They are shown as numbers here, because I don't have space for all of their names.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life YESTERDAY up until midnight GMT:

World 622,386,230 (+463,344) 6,547,286 (+1,218)
Germany 33,312,373 (+96,367) 149,948 (+140)
France 35,342,950 (+51,366) 155,078 (+33)
Taiwan 6,417,895 (+44,834) 11,003 (+53)
Japan 21,229,216 (+42,173) 44,678 (+127)
Russia 20,948,470 (+38,739) 387,163 (+109)
Italy 22,432,803 (+37,521) 177,054 (+30)
USA 98,166,904 (+31,516) 1,084,282 (+226)
S. Korea 24,740,635 (+30,846) 28,364 (+46)
Austria 5,118,832 (+12,637) 20,738 (+4)
Brazil 34,706,757 (+9,894) 686,027 (+49)
Australia 10,234,015 (+5,558) 15,168 (+43)
Poland 6,289,668 (+4,271) 117,539 (+30)
Hong Kong 1,761,381 (+4,269) 10,153 (+5)
Chile 4,620,377 (+4,083) 61,141 (+49)



Image for COVID variant tree
This is the updated image -

Screenshot 30th Sept - UK Gov vaccinations aged 5 or over 
Heart Damage

Autumn booster image
Flu jabs
UK Economy

Flu and Omicron

Autumn wave
Nextclade submissions variant watch:
English hospital admissions Autumn wave graph
USA Wastewater
European hospital admissions
Hospital acquired infections


Alzheimers and Dementia Treatments:

Abortion messaging WHO

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